IMO, its important to have clear conversion tracking in place with a solid conversion history (15 conversions in the last 30 days minimum) and a refined campaign for CO to be effective. It's also important to place a value on a conversion yourself in order to determine where to set you bidding.
Hope this helps!
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Even if you have set the settings to CPA - They charge on a per click basis. But you see it directly or indirectly its CPA at the end of the day. Google is not an Adnetwork charging on Acquisition basis.It charges purely on CPC basis.
Please check this link - Conversion Optimizer Best Practices
And For More Details This - http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60150.
Conversion Optimizer should be used in the following ways -
1 When your account has enough data on conversions. (Yes loads of data does matter!)
2. There is good amount of traffic coming on the account. More the data, better it is for Adwords to understand the trends.
3. A lot of people start thinking that once you have 15 conversions in 30 days, you should be using it. But thats incorrect. Give your account and Adwords enough data. With less amount of data, we all wouldnt be able to take decisions.
4. Optimize! Optimize! A Lot - After you enable conversion optimizer. (Optimize Everything - Keywords, Ads, Search Queries)
If your CPA was higher before, then it would be starting somewhere around that. But as you move on optimizing it continously, you would see the results. Expect the performance to increase within a month. Keep a control plan in place. Wherein you optimize your keywords, their bounce rates in place on a 3 day or 4 day timeframe. If followed diligently, results would be achieved.
The CPA should decrease. In some conditions it doesnt. Mainly due to the market competiton that the CPA has increased at the overall levels.
Thus, having unrealistic expectations on CPA, wouldnt help you gain any lower CPA objectives.
I have had enough experience of using CO. And it has worked really well 7 out of 10 times.
PS. Note - Start with only one campaign at the start and then move toward others after you start seeing results.
Re: CPA Bidding
Sorry - I am replying after so much time.
I think you might have pulled it off well from that period.
But some idea for you - Dont panic or worry with the Optimizer. It takes time to work. But when it starts working, it would be working perfectly.
Only one question - What are you using Target CPA or Max CPA?